" ... All that I experienced afterwardshad already been in Roustchouk " Elias Canetti
Ruse is the largest port, administrative, economic and cultural centre along the Bulgarian part of the Danube River, one of the biggest rivers in Europe.
In I c. CE, the Roman fortification Sexaginta Pristis (a port of sixty ships) was built at the present site of the city. The fortress was destroyed by the Avars at the end of the VI c. CE and it was rebuilt again toward the end of IX – X c. CE as a medieval Bulgarian settlement Rusi, which gradually strengthened its fortification and was renamed Gyurgevgrad.
During the period when the town was within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, it was renamed Rustchuk and became a strategically important port on the Danube. Navigation and the big European river contribute toward the opening of the town for all new ideas, stimulating the development of Bulgaria. This accounts for the numerous innovations in the most European of all Bulgarian cities even before the Liberation, which affected positively its overall development.
In 1843 the Ruse citizen Alexander hadji Rusev issues the first map of Bulgaria in Bulgarian in Strasbourg, designed for the Bulgarian schools.
Since 1st January 1866, under the initiative of the Austro-Hungarian consul Martirut, regular meteorological observations have started in Ruse in the first meteorological station built not far from the port. They were carried out by the secretaries of the Austro-Hungarian consulate in Ruse, following the guidance of Julius Von Hahn, a meteorologist from Vienna. On 7th November, 1866, the first Bulgarian railway Ruse-Varna was officially opened.
Ruse boasts many other firsts:
1878 – Ruse becomes the first city in Bulgaria to have a city plan, made by the Russian military engineers Ozhio and Kopitkin.
1881 – the first fleet brass band.
1881 – the first leather processing factory.
1882 – the first public building in Bulgaria – the building of the Prefecture, designed by Franz Gruenanger.
1883 – the first Bulgarian steam brewery, built by the Czech manufacturer Haberman.
1883. – the first Bulgarian soap factory.
1887 – the first Bulgarian knitting factory.
1889 – the first Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce.
1890 – the first Bulgarian furniture factory.
1891 – the first Bulgarian Insurance company Bulgaria with branches in Sofia and other Bulgarian cities, as well as representative offices in Tzarigrad, Thessaloniki, Veles, Bitolya, Ochrid, Athens, Pireus, Alexandria, Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.
1895 – the first Bulgarian chemical factory.
1895 – the first Bulgarian Commerce and Industry Chamber.
1897 – the first film show in Bulgaria.
1897 – the first elevator in Bulgaria, functioning in the Chicago Hotel, built in 1897 and owned by Solomon Blauschtain.
1897 – the first sculpturer’s studio in Bulgaria of P. Gavalas and L. Lir.
1898 – the first Bulgarian factory for iron rollers.
1898 – the first Bulgarian factory for flour mill machines.
1906 – the first Bulgarian factory for bicycles, gramophones and other metal articles.
1907 – the first organ in Bulgaria was installed in the Catholic Church St. Paul on the Cross.
1911 – the first cinema in Bulgaria, named Modern Theatre.
1914 – the first Bulgarian factory for blueing.
1933 – the first Bulgarian petroleum industry, owned by Yojev Veshkov.
1935 – the first Bulgarian passenger river shipping line on the river Danube between Ruse and Vidin.
1935 – Ruse becomes the seat of Bulgarian River Shipping agency.
1954 –the first bridge over the River Danube for combined transport between Bulgaria and Romania.
In the second half of the 19th century Ruse became the centre of the newly formed Danube region (Tuna vilaet). In the regional centre there were consulates of Great Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, Austro-Hungary, Prussia, the Netherlands and Greece, as well as honorary consulates of Spain and the USA.
After the liberation the town of Ruse is the largest in the newly liberated lands and with over 20 000 citizens, it became the biggest economic centre in the Principality of Bulgaria, with a fast growing economy. Since 1931 its name has been changed from Rustchuk to Ruse.
Today Ruse is proud of its unique architectural heritage, marked by the European cosmopolitan spirit of the citizens of Ruse, thanks to which even in the beginning of the 20th c., the achievements and masterpieces of modern European architecture become part of the glamour of Ruse. The most conspicuous example of this is the so called Money-yielding Building, now Drama theatre “Sava Ognyanov”. It is probably not accidental that Ruse is known as “the most aristocratic city of Bulgaria” or “littler Vienna”, and the poets of today use the colourful metaphor “Baroque fairy-tale”.
The rich cultural and historical heritage of the city is preserved today in the various collections of Ruse Historical Museum, the picturesque rooms of the Museum of Urban life, also known as “Kaliopa’s House”, the only one in Bulgaria Pantheon of the Revivalists – ossuary of the great Bulgarians from the time of the Revival. The cultural and historic zones around Ruse: the Archeological Reserve “Ivanovo Rock Churches”, included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and the Medieval town of Cherven testify for the spiritual might of traditions on these lands and have developed as tourist destinations in the last few years.
The beginnings of secular education In Ruse date back to 1838, when the first classic school was opened. Today around 20 000 students study in 14 professional high schools, 7 intermediate comprehensive schools, High school of Mathematics, English Language high school, National Arts school, Sports high school, 16 basic schools, one primary and one auxiliary school, as well as 3 private schools. There are two higher schools in Ruse: the University of Ruse “Angel Kanchev”, with over 10 000 students and PhD students in more than 50 degree programmes and the Higher School of Agribusiness and Regional Development with almost 2000 students in 3 degree programmes.
Ruse is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria with a population of about 160 000. Its economy has been thriving, especially after setting up the industrial park with an area of 640 000 sq. m. The total amount of investments in this park coming from French, Spanish and German companies exceeds 200 mln Euros. A unique complex, including a trade centre, a five star hotel and a multifunctional sports hall for 6 000 spectators is being built in Ruse.
A city with ancient history and dynamic present, a crossing point between two European transport corridors with significant administrative functions, Ruse is the administrative centre of Ruse region and the centre of North Central Economic planning region.
If we refer back to the spiritual message in the famous phrase by the Ruse born Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti that the past bears influences and our present is unthinkable without the heritage we carry in us, Ruse today is a proof that tradition determines the contemporary spirit – dynamic, protean, attractive and exciting with the initiative and imagination of its citizens.